Just one quarter of people renting do so by choice - survey

More than half of respondents say they rent because they are unable to buy their own home

Only a quarter of people renting in Ireland do so by choice, a survey from the national housing charity has found.

More than half said they rent because they are unable to buy their own home while 12 per cent said they rent because they cannot access social housing.

Threshold’s Tenant Sentiment Survey 2021 found that 61 per cent wish to own their own home within five years, but only 30 per cent expect they will be able to. The survey involved more than 220 of the charity’s clients.

Less than half (47 per cent) feel secure in their rented home while 88 per cent found it difficult or extremely difficult to find a secure home.


The greatest preference for renting was evident among 18 to 24-year-olds (43 per cent). Majorities of 25- to 34-year-olds (55 per cent), 35 to 44-year-olds (68 per cent) and 45 to 54-year-olds (50 per cent) stated that they rent because they are unable to buy their own home.

No respondents over the age of 54 stated that they rented by choice.

Aideen Hayden, chair of Threshold, said the survey shows there is a "huge gap" between people's aspirations and their expectations, as well as a lack of faith in the ability of the current housing system to meet these expectations.


“The finding that the vast majority of renters over the age of 24 would prefer not to rent is quite stark. As renters get older, the cost and long-term insecurity they face is a real challenge for them and, ultimately, for society,” she said.

“We are at a crossroads, with a huge shortage of affordable housing to buy or rent – most of our clients just don’t see a future that gives them what they need.”

While the majority (79 per cent) of respondents have lived in the private rented sector for five years or more, only 22 per cent have lived in their current home for that length of time. More than half of respondents are in their current home less than two years.

“This points to a high rate of churn, instability and lack of security in the private rented sector, with tenants facing frequent moves, often with little or no choice,” Ms Hayden added.

When asked why they had left their last rented home, 42 per cent of respondents stated that they had left as a result of action by the landlord, the most common factor being the landlord’s intention to sell.

Just under half (43 per cent) of all respondents said their income had been reduced on foot of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of those, 10 per cent had applied for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or Rent Supplement, while only 21 per cent had registered as a ‘relevant person’ with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) in order to avail of enhanced protection from eviction.

Threshold said “a generally-accepted rule of thumb” is that renters should be expected to pay approximately one third of their income on housing costs and that banks apply a similar standard in providing mortgages.

However, over half of respondents (51 per cent) said they are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Threshold, said for those on higher incomes, paying more than 30 per cent of income on rent may have “little impact” on their disposable income.

“However, respondents on lower incomes were more likely to be paying a higher proportion of their take-home pay on rent. When bills and other payments are factored in, some renters could face a situation where they have very little money left over for other basic living expenses,” he said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times